When it comes to nursing degrees, there are many different options to fit your career and income goals, timeframes, lifestyle, and budget. From education that takes a few months to several years, and includes fundamental nursing skills to advanced specialized practice, there are few professions that offer more varied opportunities than nursing.
There are many ways to pursue a career in nursing. Some options require minimal training and other nursing careers require wither an undergraduate or graduate nursing degree. Read below to learn more about the many different types of nursing degrees and certifications that may be right for you.
List of Nursing Degrees and Certifications
There are different nursing degrees and certifications you can get that will allow you to work in the nursing specialty you desire. For each nursing degree and certification, there are different educational and work-related requirements to fulfill in order to acheive these qualifications. Listed below are the different types of nursing degrees and nursing certifications you can pursue.
One way to begin working in the nursing field quickly and with minimal training is by starting out as a nursing assistant. Common job titles at this level include: certified nursing assistant (CNA), registered nursing assistant (RNA), licensed nursing assistant (LNA), direct care worker, care assistant, home assistant or personal care assistant.
Time to Completion:A few weeks to a few months, with a combination of schooling and hands-on clinical experience. After completion, students must take a state test to become certified; requirements vary widely from state to state.
Career Paths:Nursing assistants commonly work in long-term care facilities, where they assist patients with tasks such as bathing, feeding and dressing, and handle documenting and filing of patients’ paperwork.
Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) or Licensed Vocational Nursing (LVN) Degree
Of all the nursing certifications, LPN or LVN programs are the quickest and most convenient options. Because training can be completed at a hospital, vocational technical school, community college and even online, LPN/LVN programs are ideal for students who work or have other obligations.
Time to Completion:About one year.
Career Paths:This flexible, fast-paced program equips students with the most basic skills for becoming a nurse. Completion of an LPN/LVN program makes graduates eligible for licensure after they pass a state-administered nursing exam called the NCLEX-PN.
Here is some information about career options for Licensed Practical or Licensed Vocational Nurses provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Quick Facts: Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses
2016 Median Pay
$44,090 per year
Typical Entry-Level Education
Postsecondary non-degree award
Work Experience in a Related Occupation
Job Outlook, 2016-2026
12% growth (Faster than average)
Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) to Associate Degree (ADN)
LPN to associate degree bridge programs prepare students to become an entry-level registered nurse (RN).
Time to Completion:LPN to ADN programs vary in length, but typically take one year or less to complete. Online hybrid programs are the most convenient option, as they allow students the flexibility of completing some coursework on their own time. However, clinical practice hours will take place at a medical facility.
Career Paths:An associate degree provides a foundation for a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN). Some employers will even provide tuition reimbursement for nurses seeking to further their education.
Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN)
An associate of science degree in nursing program (ASN) provides graduates with more technical skills and, for 30% of graduates, serves as the stepping stone to a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN). This degree option is ideal for those who want to begin a career as an RN, but are not currently working as an LPN or LVN.
Time to Completion:About two years. Night and weekend courses offered at community colleges or vocational schools make this degree another ideal option for students who are juggling other responsibilities.
Career Paths:This degree works for those who are interested in becoming a registered nurse sooner than the time it would take to complete a four-year BSN degree program.
Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
LPN to BSN bridge programs take into consideration a student’s LPN work experience, which means that students would receive a liberal arts education without going the traditional four-year route to a bachelor’s degree.
Time to Completion:A full-time program can take as little as four academic semesters to complete; though it is possible to complete on a part-time basis. The workload can be more rigorous than other LPN options, which is a consideration for students completing this program amidst work and family obligations.
Career Paths:Completing an LPN to BSN program enables graduates to work as an RN. An RN with a BSN is considered more senior than a nurse with an associate degree and typically earns a higher salary. A BSN paves the way for managerial roles, as well as opens the door to furthering your education with a graduate degree in Nursing.
Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
When considering the different types of nursing degrees it’s important to understand that a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree is preferred by most health care providers and offers a broader range of career opportunities in today’s health care field.
So do you want to pursue an ASN or a BSN? According to a study conducted by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), patients cared for by nurses with a BSN have better outcomes and lower rates of mortality. Bachelor’s-level nurses are also more proficient in making diagnoses and evaluating the results of interventions. According to the AACN, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a report recommending that the number of nurses with a BSN increase from 50% to 80% by 2020. Many hospitals and other medical facilities follow the IOM guidelines and encourage RNs with an associate degree to earn their BSN within five years of their graduation from an associate degree program.
Time to Completion:Four years. A BSN program involves an extensive amount of coursework and lab time. While some BSN degree programs include a mix of on-campus and online classes, clinical experiences are always completed onsite at a college campus or hospital.
Career Paths:A BSN degree is required for many nursing positions. For those who have their sights set on one day earning a graduate degree, it is recommended to pursue a BSN program as opposed to the other nursing program options that require less time and offer less training.
Registered Nurse (RN) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
This bridge program is designed for registered nurse (RN) graduates with an associate degree who want to earn their bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree.
Time to Completion:About two years. This program provides credit for previous nursing skills and work experience, and is often offered within a very flexible schedule designed for working nurses. Many schools offer online courses and multiple start dates so students don’t have to wait for September to get started.
Career Paths:Nurses with a BSN degree can expect higher salaries and opportunities to take on supervisory positions. It’s also a necessary step for earning a master’s degree.
Second Degree Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
A Second Degree BSN, sometimes called an ABSN, is designed for adults with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree who wish to transition their career into the nursing field.
Time to Completion:A Second Degree BSN typically takes two years or less, since these programs will give credit for previously completed liberal arts requirements. Online programs are available for students who need more flexibility, and some schools offer an accelerated BSN (ABSN) programs that can be completed as quickly as 12 to 20 months. In addition to challenging coursework, students need to account for time spent completing clinical rotations.
Career Paths:Same as above.
Your GMercyU Path to a Degree in Nursing
Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree -ABSN(For students with a bachelor’s in another field who want to become a nurse by taking courses on a full-time basis)
Weekend BSN Degree(For students with a bachelor’s deree in another field who want to become a nurse by completing coursework on the weekends)
Job growth for registered nurses is expected to grow much faster than average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statstics.
Quick Facts: Registered Nurses
2016 Median Pay
$68,450 per year
Typical Entry-Level Education
Work Experience in a Related Occupation
Job Outlook, 2016-2026
15% (Much faster than average)
Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program enables a nurse to specialize in different types of nursing through advanced clinical training and research. Many employers offer tuition reimbursement for nurses to further their education.
Time to Completion:Typically 18-24 months. MSN programs—offered online or in a more traditional on-campus format—are very rigorous, as students are learning about an advanced specialty. Most programs require students to complete a final thesis or project.
Career Paths:An MSN can take a nursing career (and salary) to the next level. With advanced skills in a specialty, graduates will be able to care for patients in many of the same ways as a doctor.
Your GMercyU Path to a Master's Degree in Nursing
Online Master of Science in Nursing - Nurse Practitioner
Online Master of Science in Nursing - Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner
Online Master of Science in Nursing -Family Nurse Practitioner
Online Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP)
Nurses with advanced degrees and specialty skills will experience much faster than average job growth over the next 10 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Quick Facts: Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners
2016 Median Pay
$107,460 per year
Typical Entry-Level Education
Work Experience in a Related Occupation
Job Outlook, 2016-2026
31% (Much faster than average)
Other Nursing Degree Options
RNs with an associate degree have the option of enrolling in an RN to MSN program to earn their MSN immediately after earning their BSN. Direct-entry MSN programs—sometimes called “graduate entry” or “master’s entry” programs—are ideal for adults who have earned non-nursing bachelor’s degrees. This degree option is also perfect for entry-level RNs who know that they want to specialize in an advanced area of nursing.
Time to Completion:Approximately three years (one year of entry-level nursing coursework and two years of master’s-level study). Online RN to MSN programs are available, typically with several start times throughout a year.
Career Paths:These degree programs combine RN licensure preparation with advanced training in a master’s degree nursing specialty.
Doctorate Nursing Degree Programs
While all levels of nursing are expected to see high growth, nurses with doctoral degrees are projected to have tremendous job demand over the next decade. These programs prepare nurses for careers in health care administration, clinical research and advanced clinical practice.
Time to Completion:Three to five years, full-time including summers.
• A Doctorate of Nursing Education program develops advanced practice nurse specialist skills.
• A Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) program emphasizes clinical practice-oriented leadership development.
Your GMercyU Path to a Doctorate Degree in Nursing
Online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
Doctor of Nursing Science (DNSc)
At the DNSc level, types of nurses vary even more, as graduates are prepared as nurse scientists with a combination of investigative research, clinical and leadership skills.
Time to Completion:Approximately five years, full time. Part-time programs are available, but will lengthen the program time by several years. Expect challenging coursework, in-depth research, a clinical defense and a final dissertation.
Career Paths:With a DNSc, nurses are able to work in high-level positions such as an administrator, analyst or educator.
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programs prepare nurse scholars and researchers to make a meaningful impact on the theoretical foundation of nursing practice and health care delivery as a whole.
Time to Completion:Four to five years full time, with part-time options available. While students won’t complete clinical hours, they will be required to complete extensive research and a final dissertation. In general, PhD programs are not suited for juggling coursework with a job.
Career Paths:Nurses with a PhD are qualified for many facets of professional and scholarly roles, from research to public policy formation to leadership in health care delivery and education. Highly qualified nurses with a bachelor’s degree may also consider an MSN/PhD dual degree, an intensive accelerated program that simultaneously offers master’s degree preparation and doctoral-level advanced research training. This program typically takes five years to complete.
Of all the nursing certifications, LPN or LVN programs are the quickest and most convenient options. Because training can be completed at a hospital, vocational technical school, community college and even online, LPN/LVN programs are ideal for students who work or have other obligations.Which certificate is best for nursing? ›
Of all the nursing certifications, LPN or LVN programs are the quickest and most convenient options. Because training can be completed at a hospital, vocational technical school, community college and even online, LPN/LVN programs are ideal for students who work or have other obligations.What is the difference between a nursing degree and a certificate? ›
Licensed practical nurse certificate programs prepare students to become licensed practical nurses. On the other hand, associate's degrees in nursing are programs designed to prepare nursing students to become registered nurses.What is the highest certificate in nursing? ›
What is the highest level of nursing? The highest level of nursing education is the doctoral level. Positions that require doctoral nursing degrees include certain types of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), as well as leadership positions such as chief nursing officer or director of nursing.What is the hardest nursing certifications? ›
Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN)
While critical care nursing requires a deep knowledge of complex diseases, emergency nurse requires a broad understanding of many diseases. Emergency nursing is considered one of the most difficult fields of nursing, and certification in this specialty is highly desirable.
But nursing certifications do more than benefit the individual nurses who attain them — they can also improve the healthcare facilities in which these nurses work. The more skills and specialties a nurse has, the better equipped they are to provide their patients with higher quality care.What is the difference between RN and certified RN? ›
A certified nurse (CN) provides general patient care and works under registered nurses, while a registered nurse (RN) provides a higher level of patient care and coordination and works under a doctor.Is a certificate better than a bachelor's degree? ›
Certificate programs can be more flexible and less costly than a traditional bachelor's or master's degree. You won't need to fulfill the general education requirements that are part of a traditional bachelor's degree program. And some certificate courses can later be applied to a bachelor's or master's degree.What is a nurse with a degree called? ›
BSN means bachelor of science in nursing, ADN means associate degree in nursing, and RN means registered nurse.Is a BSN higher than an RN? ›
A BSN is a higher level of education by comparison to a sponsored diploma or ADN and opens you up to more nursing job opportunities and a higher salary. Regardless of which educational path you choose, your journey as an RN will start with one of these accredited programs and requires you to pass the NCLEX-RN.
- Pathophysiology. In this course, students learn how different anatomical systems work and how diseases or injuries affect these systems. ...
- Pharmacology. ...
- Medical Surgical 1 (also known as Adult Health 1) ...
- Evidence-Based Practice.
Benner (1984) also detailed the acquisition of nursing expertise and proposed five possible expertise levels: novice, advanced beginner, competent, proficient, and expert.How many levels of nursing are there? ›
There are five levels of nursing: Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), Registered Nurse (RN), Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN), and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).What is the easiest and fastest nursing degree? ›
The fastest way to become an RN is through an RN diploma program, which can be completed in as little as a year. While completing this program does not lead to a degree, it does make the individual eligible to take the NCLEX and earn their RN license.What is the easiest nursing license to get? ›
- Maine: 1-2 weeks.
- Maryland: 2-3 days.
- Missouri: 2 weeks.
- Nevada: 1-2 weeks.
- North Carolina: 1-2 weeks.
- North Dakota: 1-2 weeks.
- Texas: 2 weeks.
- Vermont: 3-5 business days.
Licensed vocational nurses (LVN) and licensed practical nurses (LPN) are some of the lowest-paid nursing roles, but that is due to the fact that the educational requirements are less than most other types of nurses.Are certifications more valuable than college degrees? ›
Whether you pursue a certificate or a degree might depend on your education and career goals. A degree can often provide you with more opportunities and higher salaries than a certificate. You might also earn a certificate to give you the foundation and prerequisites needed to get a degree.What does it mean to be a certified RN? ›
As the American Board of Nursing Specialties defines it, certification is the formal recognition of the specialized knowledge, skills, and experience demonstrated by the achievement of standards identified by a nursing specialty to promote optimal health outcomes.What is RN BC certification? ›
Credential Awarded: RN-BC®
The ANCC Informatics Nursing board certification examination is a competency based examination that provides a valid and reliable assessment of the entry-level clinical knowledge and skills of registered nurses in the informatics specialty after initial RN licensure.
NPs tend to earn more than RNs, mostly because their positions require a higher level of education, additional clinical hours and certifications, and often work in private settings.
The Republican National Committee (RNC) is a U.S. political committee that is a major part of the Republican Party of the United States. It is responsible for developing and promoting the Republican brand and political platform, as well as assisting in fundraising and election strategy.What does RNC stand for nursing? ›
Restorative Nurse Assistant (RNA)What is the highest paid nurse? ›
What is the highest-paid nurse? Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists! Earning $195,610 annually, CRNAs earn significantly more than any other type of nurse or nursing specialty.Is a PA higher than a NP? ›
Is NP higher than PA? Neither profession ranks "higher" than the other. Both NPs and PAs work in the healthcare field but with different qualifications, educational backgrounds, and responsibilities. They also work in different specialties.What are the levels of nursing in order? ›
- Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)
- Bachelor's Degree in Nursing (BSN)
- Master's Degree in Nursing (MSN)
- Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) & Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
- Certificate in Nursing Assisting (CNA)
- Diploma in Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN)
A certificate is generally obtained as an add-on to an associate degree, and usually requires some career or educational experience to be admitted to the program. An associate degree only requires a high school diploma or completion of the General Education Development (GED) test.Can a certificate count as a degree? ›
While certificates do not result in a degree, they are also awarded at undergraduate and graduate levels. And, you may even transfer credits earned from a certificate into a degree program. A few examples of the many certificates available include: Accounting Certificate.Can a certificate be as good as a degree? ›
While certifications are a cost-effective option, degrees offer a more well-rounded education. If you're looking to further your knowledge in IT-related fields, there are two paths to take -- certifications and degrees. Both paths have benefits, but they are certainly not the same.Can I take the Nclex without a nursing degree? ›
No, you can't take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) until you complete a nursing degree. The type of degree needed depends on the nursing license you wish to obtain. In general, you'll need to pass a diploma program or get an associate's (ADN) or a bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN).Is there a pay difference between ADN and BSN? ›
Both degrees will equip you with the skills that will land you a high paying job in the nursing field. But when you compare the average BSN vs ADN salary, those with a bachelor's degree make over $15,000 more per year than their colleges with an associate degree.
A BSN, which stands for Bachelor of Science in Nursing, is an undergraduate-level degree for registered nurses (RNs) that introduces nurses to topics such as patient care technology, research, health promotion, safety and quality within the healthcare system.Is MSN or BSN better? ›
Nurses with an MSN can earn more than RNs with a BSN. That's partly because a nurse with an MSN is better positioned to work in management or become licensed as a nurse practitioner. As of 2021, the average annual salary for a nurse practitioner is $120,680.Should I do RN or BSN first? ›
Nurses in clinical practice tend to list their licensure first followed by degrees and then certifications. For example: RN, BSN, CCRN. Nurses who are academic educators list their academic degrees first followed by licensure and then certifications. For example: DNP, RN, CNE.Why get BSN instead of RN? ›
The salary difference between RN vs BSN degrees is that those who hold a BSN degree are likely to make more than RN's who only have their associates degree. A BSN degree is favored over just an associates degree for many entry-level nursing jobs, therefore a BSN has more opportunities to make more money.Which is the toughest degree in the world? ›
- Chartered Accountancy.
- Quantum Mechanics.
- Aerospace/ Aeronautical Studies, Engineering.
- Biomedical Studies, Neurosciences, Biochemistry.
- Dentistry, Medicine.
Paramedics are more highly trained than LPNs, however, the 1,200 to 1,800 hours of schooling a paramedic receives is lower than the two to four years it usually takes to become an RN. The paramedic's duties are mainly concerned with delivering emergency care to patients prior to arriving at the hospital.Is Med Surg nursing hard? ›
While a nurse in med/surg does need to be an expert at what they do, it is not necessary to know everything right away. Med/surg is also challenging because it does not have the same kind of support systems that other nursing roles have access to.What are the 4 A's in nursing? ›
As a systematic process for change, this article offers the AACN's Model to Rise Above Moral Distress, describing four A's: ask, affirm, assess, and act. To help critical care nurses working to address moral distress, the article identifies 11 action steps they can take to develop an ethical practice environment.What is the rule of 5 in nursing? ›
Most health care professionals, especially nurses, know the “five rights” of medication use: the right patient, the right drug, the right time, the right dose, and the right route—all of which are generally regarded as a standard for safe medication practices.How many years is a proficient nurse? ›
A competent nurse generally has two or three years' experience on the job in the same field. For example, two or three years in intensive care. The experience may also be similar day-to-day situations.
- Nurse Anesthetist.
- Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner.
- Nurse Midwife.
- Family Nurse Practitioner.
- Clinical Nurse Specialist.
- Nurse Researcher.
- Travel Nurse.
- Informatics Nurse.
One big difference between an RN and an NP is their level of education. Registered nurses need either an associate's (ADN) or bachelor's degree (BSN). Nurse Practitioners, meanwhile, need a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).What does a DNP do? ›
Instead of conducting nursing research or teaching at the college level, a DNP-prepared nurse might provide direct patient care, provide clinical training for nurses and NP students, serve on a hospital board or in a nursing administrative position or work on emerging health policies.What are the big 5 in nursing? ›
Many different models have been proposed to better understand personality, but the model that is most widely accepted by psychologists today is the Big Five Model. According to this theory, personality can be narrowed down to five main factors: extroversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism.What is the difference between a RN and a certified RN? ›
A certified nurse (CN) provides general patient care and works under registered nurses, while a registered nurse (RN) provides a higher level of patient care and coordination and works under a doctor.What are the 6 Cs of nursing? ›
The 6 Cs – care, compassion, courage, communication, commitment, competence - are a central part of 'Compassion in Practice', which was first established by NHS England Chief Nursing Officer, Jane Cummings, in December 2017.How do you list nursing certifications? ›
For example, a nurse executive might choose Nancy Gordon, MBA, MSN, RN. Note that the highest non- nursing degree is listed first followed by the highest nursing degree. A nurse who has a master's in a non- nursing field might choose Anne Peterson, MEd, BSN, RN.What are the 7 domains of nursing? ›
The 7 domains are: Physiological: Basic, Physiological: Complex, Behavioral, Safety, Family, Health System, and Community.What are the 4 cores of nursing? ›
Core nursing values essential to baccalaureate education include human dignity, integrity, autonomy, altruism, and social justice. The caring professional nurse integrates these values in clinical practice.What degree is higher than an RN? ›
There are five levels of nursing: Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), Registered Nurse (RN), Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN), and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).
Band 6 nurses are often called 'Junior Sister', 'Specialist Staff Nurse' or 'Specialist Nurse Practitioner'. To exemplify, a nurse may choose to specialise in district nursing, intensive care or paediatrics. To successfully progress onto Band 6 level, you'll need to pursue further training within a specialist area.How do you rock a nursing interview? ›
- Know where you're going. Healthcare facilities are often big and confusing. ...
- Dress professionally. Professional attire tells interviewers you take them and the job seriously.
- Rehearse your nursing interview questions. Don't just prep answers. ...
- Pamper yourself. ...
- Listen and take notes.
The Code contains a series of statements that taken together signify what good practice by nurses, midwives and nursing associates looks like. It puts the interests of patients and service users first, is safe and effective, and promotes trust through professionalism.What are examples of nursing credentials? ›
Common educational credentials to see after a nurse's name include doctoral degrees (PhD, DNP, EdD, DNS), master's degrees (MSN, MS, MA) bachelor's degrees (BS, BSN, BA) and associate degrees (AS, AD, ADN). Nurse licensure credentials are RN, LPN, and LVN.What does DNP stand for? ›
A doctor of nursing practice, or DNP, and a medical degree are both earned following rigorous coursework, and both lead to or accelerate careers in the health care field.What does CCRN stand for? ›
What Is A CCRN? A CCRN is a certified acute or critical-care nurse. To be eligible to take this exam, a registered nurse must have at least two years of professional experience and 1,750 hours in a direct care setting.